New Delhi: The government and the private sector are both taking steps to make personal care, hygiene and sanitation products more affordable as they up the ante to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The government on Friday capped prices of hand sanitizers while Hindustan Unilever moved to reduce prices of products under its Lifebuoy and Domex brands.
The government has capped the price of a 200 ml hand sanitizer bottle at ₹100. Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, in a tweet Friday, said prices of other pack sizes of hand sanitizers will correspond with this. Similarly, price of a 2 ply (surgical) mask is to be capped at Rs8 and that of 3 ply (surgical) mask at ₹10. The price limits will be in force till 30 June, the government said in a release.
Earlier this month, the government had declared sanitizers and masks “essential commodities" to prevent hoarding and price manipulation of such goods. Thursday, it placed price limits on alcohols used in making hand sanitizeers.
In a separate announcement today, HUL said it is cutting prices of personal care and home hygiene brands—Lifebuoy sanitizer, liquid hand wash and Domex floor cleaners—by 15%.
“We are commencing production of these reduced priced products immediately and these will be available in the market in the next few weeks," the company said in a statement.
HUL hiked prices of its soap brands including Lux, Lifebuoy, Dove, Hamas, Liril and Pears by 5% to 6% earlier this year to mitigate rising input costs.
To meet the surging demand in the market, HUL has also ramped up the production of Lifebuoy sanitizers, Lifebuoy hand wash liquid and Domex floor cleaners and is committed to scaling it up even further in the coming weeks, the company said in its statement.
HUL said it is pledging Rs100 crore towards fighting the deadly coronavirus in India.
The company said it will also donate 20 million pieces of Lifebuoy soaps in the next few months “to the sections of the society which need it the most." The FMCG company will partner with medical institutions and provide them free supplies of sanitation and hygiene products.
HUL will donate ₹10 crores to upgrade the health care facilities in testing centres and hospitals.
The decision to slash prices of key brands by India's largest fast moving consumer goods company follows rival Godrej Consumer Product Ltd's (GCPL) recent decision to defer price hikes on its soaps portfolio—keeping in mind the demand for skin cleaning products in the country right now.
The outbreak of the highly contagious COVID-19 disease has spurred demand for personal hygiene and germ-killing products such as soap, and sanitizers—the demand for which now far exceeds supply.
New cases of COVID-19 are now surging in India. There were 38 new cases reported Thursday. That number rose to 52 today, taking the total count of those affected by the deadly virus to 244. The virus has claimed five lives so far in the country. As experts debate if the disease has entered its third and most explosive stage in India, the government has urged all citizens to stay indoors on 22 March.